Children have no shortage of distractions in today’s hyperactive world. Researchers at McGill University are showing that mindfulness training at a young age produces adults who are smarter, healthier, happier and more productive.
A group of Montreal first graders are on the frontlines of an innovative study that is blending clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience to develop a drug-free way to improve attention skills.
One of the research team’s new recruits is Michael Lifshitz, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience and winner of both a Vanier Canada Scholarship and doctoral level NSERC 2013 André Hamer Postgraduate Prize. His long list of accomplishments includes five first-author research papers and several local, provincial, national and international awards.
He is currently working with Dr. Amir Raz, a Canada Research Chair in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention, to prove how age-appropriate mental training—in this case, a four-week program—can improve a child’s behaviour both at school and at home. The study uses non-invasive brain imaging to show how such training strengthens brain networks, resulting in improved cognitive, emotional and social aptitudes.
The research is contributing to our fundamental understanding of brain development, while providing practical knowledge that can be used to improve education.